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Hometown Hernando

Hernando Special Olympics swimmers get their chance to shine


Sarah DiBlasi is a mother, then a coach.

DiBlasi coaches the swimming program for Hernando County Special Olympics. And when the athletes meet every Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Hernando Branch YMCA, they take to the pool like, well, fish take to water.

"I really try to push that (the older athletes get involved)," said DiBlasi, the third-year coach. "Because most of them are stuck at home and they need something to do, too. They need to get out and get exercise and stay healthy."

DiBlasi's son, Bob, who is autistic, swims as well. Actually, he's quite the chatterbox, giving commentary on each of his peer's laps. DiBlasi said her son has come a long way since joining Special Olympics, back when he was very regressed.

"When he got out of high school, there was nothing for him to do," DiBlasi said. "No programs, no activities. He spent three years at home doing nothing. He loves the water, and I knew he would love swimming."

The Saturday swims are just practice. They do that for weeks, then participate in the upcoming county games. From there, the best swimmers head to the area games, which are in Dunedin in July. If the athlete wins a blue ribbon there, he or she then participates at the state games in Vero Beach.

No matter how far they go in any of the sports at Special Olympics, it's all about giving these athletes a chance to shine.

"They love all the sports," said DiBlasi, who also coaches track and field, as well as helping out at bowling. "They love doing anything we can get them to do and this is their life. This is one of the big things they have."

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Hernando County Special Olympics

For information, contact Frances Click at (352) 597-5003.

Hernando Special Olympics swimmers get their chance to shine 05/06/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 7:13pm]
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